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Full text of "My Country And My People"

242          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

Ch'en Houchu (ruler of Ch'en, 553-604) and Nalan Hsingteh
(a Manchu,  1655-1685), most distinguished for their love
lyrics.
The first type is best represented by Li Po, of whom Tu Fu

says:

With ajar of wine, Li makes a hundred poems,
He sleeps in an inn of Ch'angan city.
The Emperor sent for him and he'd not move,
Saying, "I'm the God of Wine, Your Majesty!"

Li Po is China's prince of vagabond poets, with his drink, his
dread of officialdom, his companionship with the moon, his
love of high mountain scenery, and his constant aspiration:

Oh, could I but hold a celestial sword
And stab a whale across the seas!

Li Po's romanticism ended finally in his death from reaching
for the shadow of the moon in the water in a drunken fit and
falling overboard. Good, infinitely good, that the staid and
apparently unfeeling Chinese could sometimes reach for the
shadow of the moon and die such a poetic death!

Well it is that the Chinese had this love of nature which
constituted the poetry of their existence, and which overflowed
from the fullness of their hearts into literature. It taught the
Chinese a more widespread love of birds and flowers than is
usual among the common folk of other nations. I have seen a
Chinese crowd get excited at the sight of a bird in a cage,
which made them childish and good-humoured again, made
them share a common feeling of gay irresponsibility and broke
down the barriers of hostility among strangers, as only an
object of common delight could. The worship of the pastoral
life has coloured the whole Chinese culture, and to-day officials
or scholars speak of "going back to the farm" as the most
elegant, the most refined and most sophisticated ambition
in life they can think of. The vogue is so great that even the
deepest-dyed scoundrel of a politician will pretend that he has
something of Li Po's romanticism in his nature. Actually I